Friday, September 30, 2011

Yergin's flawed view of the future of the Age of Oil

Daniel Yergin has a new book out about the oil industry.  It's a sequel to his acclaimed earlier book, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.  In the new book, The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, he discusses "energy" as the engine of global political and economic change, as well as central to the battle over climate change.  The scope of the new book includes Beijing and China's growth, the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea, conflicts in the Middle East, political power struggles in Washington DC, technology development in Silicon Valley, and more.

Salon.COM just posted an interview with Daniel Yergin which shows his intelligence and knowledge, but also a somewhat flawed view.  (See the link below)  Basically he's too quick to discount peak oil, and too confident on new technology to save our bacon.  I see a lot in the interview to agree with, and think he has a lot of important things to say.

Some context is the high oil prices in 2008 that had everybody all concerned.  That is, until the financial crash in the fall of 2008 that overwhelmed our attention span.  Since 2008 the price has gone up and down in a way that has many thinking "market manipulation by greedy tycoons".  The common refrain against peak oil concerns is that obviously the price fluctuations aren't due to supply concerns, but due to market manipulation.  I'm sure that market manipulation is a large part of the price fluctuations, but the core issue is that the easily tapped oil that's cheap to produce cannot sustain production levels to support the energy needs of our society.  As that supply of cheaply produced oil tightens we're going to see many issues arise.

The Salon interview starts by asking him about the validity of Peak Oil

The peak oil argument is that we are already halfway through the world's endowment of recoverable oil. The argument that I am making is that the endowment is much larger, and technology keeps enlarging what we can recover.

He goes on to discuss some unacknowledged oil resources:

  • an offshore formation in Brazil called "presalt" (oil found under a thick layer of salt lying just beneath the seabed).
  • The Bakken formation (a rock formation yielding shale, or "tight" oil) which is now producing 450,000 barrels of oil a day, up from 10,000 barrels a day recently.

These are sources of fossil oil, to be sure.  But are they examples of the sort of easily tapped cheaply produced oil reserves our society grew up on?  No.

The presalt formations in Brazil have significant reserves (5-8 billion barrels in the Tupi field, with several other known fields bringing the totals much higher).  The oil is light-sweet-crude that's easily tapped and processed.  However, it's in deep water way off shore.  The Tupi field is 160 miles off-shore from Rio De Janeiro.  The water is 6,600 feet deep, and the oil is another 15,000 feet below the water.  This is extremely deep drilling that's going to be highly costly to tap, and if there's an accident at the well might I remind you of the Deep Water Horizon disaster in the summer of 2010?

The Bakken Formation, as a shale oil reserve, will be requiring high energy inputs to extract oil.  We're talking about rocks that are a bit oily, rather than freely flowing oil.  The process to extract oil from these rocks requires heat and steam, which requires energy inputs to get the oil.

The point of mentioning these technological hurdles is that it shows Yergin is not taking into account the Energy Return on Investment.  If it costs you a barrel of oil's worth of energy to get a barrel of oil, you're at a wash in terms of energy gain.  What made the early years of the Age of Oil so successful was the energy gain at 100-to-1 ratios, where you'd spend 1 barrel of oil worth of energy, and get back 100 (or more) barrels of oil from the well.  Over the years this ratio has shrunk considerably.

Yergin does suggest there have been recurring fears that we'll run out of oil.

There have been recurrent periods of great fear of running out of oil and it goes back to when oil was first developed as a commercial business in western Pennsylvania in the 19th century. It was always mysterious and people were predicting it would come to an end and we'd have to go back to using whale oil or coal or so forth. But each time there is this anxiety, what happens is new technology, new innovations, new areas open up, and the supply picture suddenly looks much better. So this current peak oil discussion is really the latest manifestation of what has been a recurrent feature since people started using and developing oil. But when you look at the numbers, we see that there is an additional supply coming in. My view is that rather than facing an imminent decline we'll see production of oil liquids continue to expand for a few more decades and then it'll come to a plateau. It won't necessarily fall off sharply.

I don't know enough to predict the shape of the fossil oil production/demand curves in the coming years.  However it's telling that he uses the phrase "oil liquids" because that includes the possibilities of producing liquid oil products from sources other than fossil oil.

What the peak oil community fails to take into account is that fossil oil isn't the only source of oil liquids.  There are plenty of plants and animal sources that could be tapped.  Further tapping biomass sources (plants and animals) does not worsen the carbon footprint in the atmosphere, because it doesn't re-introduce carbon that had been sequestered zillions of years ago.  However the concern with biomass sources is the competition against use of biomass for other purposes such as food, clothing, timber, paper, etc.

In any case as he points out, new fossil oil resources have to be developed, which takes time and money.  There may not be enough time for these new fossil oil resources to be developed before the oil supply crunch hits us hard.  And there may not be enough money, given the current debt crisis rocking the world financial markets.

The next thing they talk about is the global energy dominance struggle between China and the rest of the world.  Yergin says the Western powers (Europe, U.S., Japan) is going to see a decrease in fossil oil demand because "we are going to be driving more efficient cars by 2025.. [that are] supposed to get up to 64 miles to the gallon."

Okay, yes, the Obama Administration did push for stronger CAFE standards which require much higher miles/gallon efficiencies by 2025.  While the car companies do produce high efficiency cars for sale in Europe they've dragged their feet in doing so for America.  Higher fuel efficiency will decrease the oil demand curve and he later says "energy conservation" is grossly underestimated because it is in effect an energy source.

However one thing going on about China is that consumption which formerly happened in the West is now happening in China due to the outsourcing of manufacturing etc to China.

Yergin refers to a Japanese term, "Mottainai", which he describes as "too precious to waste."

In the U.S. we had so much oil for so long that we don't understand fossil oil as "too precious to waste".  He suggests, and I agree, that we need to rearrange our thinking about fossil oil.

I see a lot in the interview to agree with.  For example the "energy security" issue that is a huge threat to the U.S. (and other countries).  The "energy" (better term is to call it what it is; fossil oil) that drives our society is the foundation of our wealth.  Our lifestyle is in absolute dependance to keeping fossil oil resources flowing into our gasoline tanks.

However this issue is largely unrecognized in the popular discourse.  Instead there's a lot of misinformation out there suggesting it's not that big a deal.  And of course the Republicans are using this as a wedge issue to make more false slander against the Obama administration.






In this gripping account of the quest for the energy that our world needs, Daniel Yergin continues the riveting story begun in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Prize. A master storyteller as well as a leading energy expert, Yergin shows us how energy is an engine of global political and economic change. It is a story that spans the energies on which our civilization has been built and the new energies that are competing to replace them. From the jammed streets of Beijing to the shores of the Caspian Sea, from the conflicts in the Mideast to Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, Yergin takes us into the decisions that are shaping our future.

The drama of oil-the struggle for access, the battle for control, the insecurity of supply, the consequences of use, its impact on the global economy, and the geopolitics that dominate it-continues to profoundly affect our world.. Yergin tells the inside stories of the oil market and the surge in oil prices, the race to control the resources of the former Soviet empire, and the massive mergers that transformed the landscape of world oil. He tackles the toughest questions: Will we run out of oil? Are China and the United States destined to come into conflict over oil? How will a turbulent Middle East affect the future of oil supply?

Yergin also reveals the surprising and sometimes tumultuous history of nuclear and coal, electricity, and the "shale gale" of natural gas, and how each fits into the larger marketplace. He brings climate change into unique perspective by offering an unprecedented history of how the field of climate study went from the concern of a handful of nineteenth- century scientists preoccupied with a new Ice Age into one of the most significant issues of our times.

He leads us through the rebirth of renewable energies and explores the distinctive stories of wind, solar, and biofuels. He offers a perspective on the return of the electric car, which some are betting will be necessary for a growing global economy.

The Quest presents an extraordinary range of characters and dramatic stories that illustrate the principles that will shape a robust and flexible energy security system for the decades to come. Energy is humbling in its scope, but our future requires that we deeply understand this global quest that is truly reshaping our world.





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

RTI Internationals DoE funded solid state lighting technology program wins R&D100 Award in energy-efficient lighting

RTI International has a team of researchers working on what they call "Solid State Lighting" that promises huge gains in energy efficient lighting, and at the same time making LED lighting more pleasant for humans.   Leveraging advanced polymeric nanofibers with diameters on the order of 300 nm, their scientists have created a cost-effective solution for light management across the visible spectrum.

Their research is into creating "Photoluminescent Nanofibers" (PLN) and manipulating their use in different ways to create pleasing lighting systems.  PLN's are a composite nano-material (a.k.a. nanocomposite) that combines nanofibers (extremely thin fibers) with luminescent particles (known as quantum dots).  They have several techniques for constructing lighting devices this way.

The PLN materials do not themselves emit light.  They are luminescent, which means they receive light emitted by other sources and re-emit light with a color frequency signature determined by the luminescent material.  In particular they are using a "blue LED", covering it with their PLN material, and converting the bluish light from the LED into full spectrum white light.

Pln luminescence

A poster from 2010 shows they achieve efficiencies of over 50 lumens/watt with "excellent color rendering" attributes.

Partial support for their work was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Solid-State Lighting Core Technologies Program through award DE-FC26-06NT42860.

We should remember this sort of thing as Washington DC Politics is currently in a bitterly divided phase with narrow minded right wing ideologues claiming the Federal Government shouldn't be funding this kind of research.  They seem to have no problem with the government funding research into machines that kill people (a.k.a. weapons) so are they having some hypocrisy (or is it hypocracy) about the governments role in funding things private corporations do.   While they spouting ideology about government meddling with private corporations, this particular research would have a highly positive result, one that decreases the negative impact of our energy intensive lifestyle, and by decreasing electricity use (through improved efficiency) reduces the need to destroy the environment to get coal to run the system we live in.

Why is Washington DC Politics so hell-bent on funding research for machines to kill people, and so resistent to funding research into beneficial machines?

See below for a youtube video, a link to the research poster, and a pair of press releases concerning the technology.



Photoluminescent Nanofibers for Solid-State Lighting Applications (poster from RTI's solid state lighting research program)


Solid state lighting hr

DOE Investment Yields R&D 100 Award Winner in Energy-Efficient Lighting

September 27, 2011

RTI International's innovative nanofiber lighting technology has been honored with a 2011 R&D 100 Award. Established in 1963 by the editors of R&D Magazine, the annual R&D 100 Awards identify the 100 most significant, newly introduced research and development advances of the past year in multiple disciplines.

RTI's technology was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which supports research and development in solid-state lighting, a technology that uses highly energy-efficient semiconductors. At the core of RTI's invention is an advanced polymer nanofiber structure – a resilient material thinner than a human hair – which allows engineers to adjust the color palette of the light (or color rendering) to match the desired application. Powered by a blue light-emitting diode (LED), the RTI device produces a well-balanced white light that uses far less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs and provides the basis for higher energy efficiency in a wide range of lighting types.

In fact, LEDs and organic LEDs (OLEDs) have the potential to be ten times more energy efficient than conventional incandescent lighting and can last up to 25 times longer. Through competitive solicitations, the Department of Energy invests in projects that advance core R&D goals, develop new products, and expand domestic manufacturing. DOE funding leverages additional private sector funding in these projects.

The Department's investments to advance solid-state lighting help accelerate the adoption of these technologies by reducing costs, enhancing product quality and performance, and saving energy and money for consumers. They also play an important role in encouraging U.S.-based manufacturing of solid-state lighting products, creating jobs, and promoting America's role as a global leader in energy efficiency.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about DOE's support of research and development of energy-efficient lighting, and visit our Energy Savers lighting choiceswebsite to start saving money by saving energy.

Join the clean energy conversation on Facebook at DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable EnergyEnergy Savers, and Solar Decathlon pages.



RTI International's NLITeTM Lighting Technology Earns R&D 100 Award

News Highlights

— Nanofiber lighting improvement technology (NLITe™) honored with a 2011 R&D 100 award.
— The technology provides for higher energy efficiency in a wide range of lighting types.
— Nlight can also produce an aesthetically pleasing light with better color rendering properties.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—RTI International's nanofiber lighting improvement technology (NLITe™) has been honored with a 2011 R&D 100 award.

The annual awards, sponsored by R&D Magazine, honor the 100 most significant new technologies of the past year.

RTI's technology, which was funded in part by the Department of Energy's Solid-State Lighting program, has led to the development of high-performance, nanofiber-based reflectors that result in substantial energy savings. It has also led to the development of photoluminescent nanofibers (PLNTM) that can be used to produce an aesthetically pleasing light with better color rendering properties, especially in solid-state lighting applications.

"This breakthrough provides for higher energy efficiency in a wide range of lighting types," said Lynn Davis, Ph.D., director of RTI's Nanoscale Materials Program. "In addition, we can now adjust the appearance color palette of the light to match the desired application. Receiving this award is an honor for our team, and we are very proud of the innovation that resulted in the development of this exciting technology."

At the core of RTI's invention is an advanced nanofiber structure that provides exceptional lighting management. Nanofibers are materials with diameters and surface features much smaller than the human hair but with comparable lengths.

"We are excited that R&D Magazine has chosen to recognize this technology," said Galen Hatfield, RTI vice president of Strategic Initiatives. "Not only is it exceptionally innovative, but it represents a new platform of commercially viable materials to improve energy efficiency and appearance in lighting. We are aggressively moving this technology into the marketplace and it has captured the attention of a number of key players."

RTI also received the R&D 100 award in 2002 for thin-film and vacuum technologies, in 2004 for its syngas desulfurization technology, and in 2010 for the Nextreme thermal solutions 'hot spot' electronics chip cooler technology.



Monday, September 26, 2011

According to Jeremy Rifkin The 'Democratization Of Energy' Will Change Everything

American economist Jeremy Rifkin has a new book out, The Third Industrial Revolution, in which he argues that the current economic woes are a symptom of a deep problem rooted in the dependence on fossil fuels.  Of course that's true and to me it's shocking that it's such an under-recognized problem.  Rather than being symptoms of a temporary economic malaise, the unemployment, rising food prices, rising debt and more are signs that the current world order -- long infused with and defined by fossil fuels -- is collapsing around us.  To understand one should study up on the role of fossil fuels in creating the marvels of our age, and then turn to studying peak oil and the collapsing supply of fossil fuels.

Ask yourself: What does Economics 101 say about "supply and demand".  When demand for some product outstrips supply, the price of that product goes up.  Yes?  Simple economics theory.  What about if that product is a fundamental requirement to keep "the economy" moving?  What if the supply of that product starts diminishing and can never again be increased?  What if a large part of the political leadership is either ignorant of the diminished supply, or in outright denial, and instead of proposing rational solutions continue to promote continued dependance on the fuel whose supply can never be increased?

That's where Peak Oil is leading us.  In Rifkin's book there have been two industrial revolutions, and that a third one is underway as we speak right now.  The third industrial revolution will lead to a grand new era of collaborative business that's more about creative play, peer-to-peer interactivity, social capital, participation in open commons and access to global networks.

The Third Industrial Revolution is the last stage of the great industrial saga and the first stage of the emerging collaborative era rolled together.  Implementation will be forced by diminishing supply of fossil fuel, and enabled by the "democratizing" influence of distributed power generation.  Distributed power generation doesn't require the top down domineering of industrialized power systems.  Somehow Rifkin believes that "we" will automatically implement democratized power as if the powers-that-be will allow it to happen.

The industrial revolutions were powered and enabled into existence by fossil fuels.  It wasn't purely intellectual genius freed from religious domination that created the industrial revolutions.  It was the harnessing of fossil fuels and the huge energy resources stored within them.  Fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are reservoirs of sequestered carbon and solar energy captured millions of years ago by plants and animals.  Their dead bodies piled up and became trapped underground where natural forces converted their tissues into fossil fuels.

In the 1700's-1800's engineers and industrialists made the first steps to developing technology to mine those fuels, prepare them for industrial use, and use the energy to build vast industrial empires.  It's been a great ride, hasn't it?  However 300 years later and we're now at the mid-point of the fossil fuel resources the planet captured for us.  It's all downhill from here.  That is, the energy available from fossil fuels can only decline from here out.  And the politicians who suggest otherwise ("Drill Baby Drill") are deluded or insane or something.

Rifkin sees this third industrial revolution as a transitionary phase from industriousness to collaborativeness.  Industrial ages are characterized by "values of rigid discipline and hard work, the top-down flow of authority, the importance of financial capital, the workings of the marketplace and private property relations".  This was required by fossil fuels because of the centralized nature of fossil fuel resources.  But as fossil fuel becomes scarcer it's going to force us into a new mode of society.

Rifkin suggests the shift will rely on renewable energy resources (Solar, Wind, Biomass, etc) all of which are available "anywhere".  We won't be reliant on centralized energy resources but distributed ones.

He says "The democratization of energy has profound implications for how we orchestrate the entirety of human life in the coming century."  It means an era of distributed capitalism because energy resources are available everywhere.  He suggests the dispersed energy resources will be collected from everywhere and bundled and shared with others over a distributed "energy internet".

The distributed nature of distributed energy generation supposedly forces lateral power structures rather than the top down domineering ones of the industrial revolutions.

However - as compelling as the vision is, I wonder if the powers-that-be will allow it to take shape that way.  The powers in charge have rarely acted in the interests of individuals, and always acted in the interests of keeping those in power still in power.  Is some of the denialism about energy resource problems due to those in power trying desparately to keep the game going so they can remain in power?

It seems there's a huge interest in undermining the green tech/jobs revolution the Obama Administration wants/ed to unleash.  At the current moment we have another budget showdown in Washington DC and the government grants/loans programs for advanced green transportation technology has a gun held to its head with the Republicans saying we need to stop funding such programs in order to balance the budget.  Developing this kind of technology will act to undermine the old order of fossil fuel dependence.  Electric vehicles participate in the democratized energy system because a home owner can have enough solar panels on their house to fuel their electric car with electricity, and not have to pay anybody a dime for fuel.  Is the threats against electric vehicle technology programs meant to keep us captured by fossil fuel interests for transportation fuel?



Chevron Energy Solutions and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Complete Navy's First Landfill Gas Power Plant

Landfill methane is captured and converted to 1.9 MW renewable power

ALBANY, Ga., Sept. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Chevron Energy Solutions and the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Albany today celebrated completion of the Department of the Navy's first landfill gas cogeneration plant.

The plant produces 1.9 megawatts of renewable electric power and steam by burning landfill gas collected from a nearby landfill. Chevron Energy Solutions also completed industrial lighting retrofits in 82 buildings and expanded the existing energy management control system. When combined with the cogeneration project, these measures reduce the base's purchase of utility power and reduce its carbon emissions by 19,300 tons annually, equivalent to removing 16,000 cars from the road.

"This project offers significant benefits to the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps and Dougherty County," said Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, MCLB Albany. "Chevron Energy Solutions has helped us surpass federal renewable energy goals in our pursuit of becoming the 'greenest' Marine Corps installation in the nation. Not only does the use of this renewable power improve the base's energy security and reliability, it also creates a valuable long-term source of revenue for the County.  This is a win-win-win."

Chevron Energy Solutions developed, designed and managed construction of the plant; and will maintain the landfill gas-to-energy facility, pipeline and processing equipment. The facility houses a dual-fuel engine generator, a stack heat recovery steam generator and two dual-fuel boilers. The primary equipment can operate on landfill gas or natural gas, which provides energy security benefits. With the addition of the plant, MCLB's power portfolio now contains 19 percent renewable power, exceeding guidelines in the EPAct of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Chevron Energy Solutions and MCLB will co-operate the generator and steam-producing equipment. Through an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC), Chevron Energy Solutions arranged the financing for the project, which is repaid through the MCLB's avoided energy costs. The company also guarantees system performance for 22 years. Chevron Energy Solutions has been actively involved with MCLB Albany's energy program since 2002, and the base recently won the 2011 Secretary of the Navy Energy and Water Management Award.

"With this new plant and the investments and participation of Dougherty County, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is able to extract power from an otherwise unused renewable energy source. We are proud to work with the Navy to support this award-winning energy program and to support the important mission of the Marine Corps Logistics Base," said Jim Davis, President of Chevron Energy Solutions. "This new energy plant is funded entirely through energy savings and demonstrates how military bases and local governments can work together with private industry to meet federal mandates without increasing taxpayer costs."

Dougherty County extracts and sells the landfill gas to MCLB from the Fleming/Gaissert Road Landfill, which receives approximately 100,000 tons of municipal solid waste each year. The biological decomposition of the waste generates landfill gas that is approximately 50 percent methane by volume.

The plant is being dedicated in a ceremony today, with military, government and business officials in attendance.

About Chevron Energy Solutions

Chevron Energy Solutions develops and builds sustainable energy projects that increase energy efficiency and renewable power, reduce energy costs, and ensure reliable, high-quality energy for government, education and business facilities. Its parent, Chevron Corporation, is investing across the energy spectrum to develop energy sources for future generations by expanding the capabilities of alternative and renewable energy technologies. Chevron spent approximately $4.4 billion on developing these technologies since 2002, and expects to spend more than $2.2 billion in this area between 2009 and 2011. For more information, visit

About MCLB

Located in Southwest Georgia, the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany occupies approximately 3,600 acres within Dougherty County, and is a vital strategic asset to the Marine Corps and the nation. The mission of MCLB Albany is to provide facilities, infrastructure and a range of tailored support services enabling supported commands aboard the installation to accomplish their assigned missions in support of the warfighter. MCLB is one of the area's largest employers with more than 4,700 military, civilian and contract employees. MCLB Albany's combined military and civil service payroll exceeded $152 million in fiscal year 09.  The base is focused on being environmentally conscious and continues to look for ways to decrease use of non-renewable energy sources to increase security and reduce cost. MCLB also continues to reach out to the surrounding community to share common goals and values, and build long-lasting relationships that are good for the Corps and the community.

For more information, visit

Lt. Kyle Thomas, MCLB, 229.639.7023
Ken Pimental, Chevron Energy Solutions, 415.733.4673

SOURCE  Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany; Chevron Energy Solutions
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany; Chevron Energy Solutions
Web Site:



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 26 September 2011

Monica Patel, Policy Specialist, Ecology Center,, (734) 369-9277
Jess Leber, Senior Organizer, Environment,,, (516) 658-9606



Over 3,000 people join popular campaign on urging the University of Michigan to join NFL’s green power trend.

ANN ARBOR, MI — More than 3,000 people have joined a campaign on calling on the University of Michigan to commit to using solar energy in its football stadium.

The campaign, created by the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, follows a growing NFL trend of renewable energy-powered national sports stadiums, including the homes of the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, and Washington Redskins. Activists hope the petition on will lead the University of Michigan, home to the Big 10 Wolverines and the largest-capacity stadium in North America, to become the first big-name college football school to join in.

“The UM stadium has the potential to be the largest athletic venue in North America with solar panels, which is fitting with the University’s claim to be ‘the leaders and the best’,” said Monica Patel, policy specialist at the Ecology Center. “Even though the electricity generated won’t solve the climate crisis, it will go a long way in terms of solar energy education — just think of the awareness raised among the 100,000+ fans there on Game Day, and millions of others who tune in. The move would also give real support to Michigan's growing solar energy industry."

The petition, addressed to University President Mary Sue Coleman, Athletic Director David Brandon, and Director of Campus Sustainability Initiatives Terry Alexander, is being circulated online. Supporters also plan to seek signatures at Michigan football games this fall.

“What these activists have accomplished is really impressive,” said Jess Leber, a senior organizer for, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change. “In just a few weeks, the Ecology Center has inspired thousands of University of Michigan community members to make their voices heard on solar energy. is about empowering anyone, anywhere to demand action on the issues that matter to them, and it has been incredible to watch the Ecology Center’s campaign take off.”

In 2009, University of Michigan students completed a feasibility assessment of a stadium solar project, estimating that an installation could divert 776 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Ecology Center’s campaign is asking University officials to take move beyond feasibility assessments by engaging with Michigan’s solar manufacturers and developing a project to offset some of the stadium’s electricity use and feed it back into the grid during times when the stadium isn’t used.

The petition asks University of Michigan leadership to announce a commitment to solar energy at the college’s annual EarthFest this Tuesday.

Live signature totals from Ecology Center’s campaign on

Comments from petition signers such as these below can be found here:

Anthony King, UM alum and Ann Arbor resident: “As an alumnus of UM, I was always taught to think of us as the leaders and best, and not just for sports. Here is an opportunity for sports and the social and academic side of the University to work together, and set an example for the nation.”

Gloria Zimet, UM alum and Ann Arbor resident: “As an Ann Arbor resident and UM alum, I see this initiative as a golden opportunity for the university and its talented students to not only support environmental sustainability, but to become nationally recognized for their leadership role by doing so at one of its most beloved and well-known arenas, the ‘Big House.’”

For more information on the Ecology Center, please visit:

The Ecology Center is a membership-based, nonprofit environmental organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Founded by community activists after the country's first Earth Day in 1970, the Ecology Center is now a regional leader that works for a safe and healthy environment where people live, work, and play. Ann Arbor 350, a project of the Ecology Center, is connected with an international campaign to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis; scientists say 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

For more information on, please visit: is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Greenstart Begins Cleantech Accelerator Program in San Francisco

Introduces First Companies at Commencement with San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Greenstart executives, joined by San Francisco's Mayor Edwin Lee, held an opening ceremony at their company headquarters today to inaugurate the first startup accelerator exclusively designed for the cleantech industry.

At the same time, Greenstart introduced its first group of startup companies. The four companies represent a broad swath of the cleantech industry, including smart appliances, renewable energy, consumer software and energy efficiency. They also all come to the program at different stages; some with a new idea, others with a developed product.  All four represent "fast cleantech" startups - those that are capital efficient and capable of generating revenue in 12 months or less.

Greenstart's debut companies are:

  • Lono, LLC: Lono, LLC is the maker of SmarterShade, a proprietary technology for smart glass that allows varying levels of light to enter through a window based on user controls. SmarterShade can be applied to any window or glass surface and can offer up to 40% in energy savings. SmarterShade received the $100,000 Kleiner Perkins Clean Tech Prize at the 2011 Rice University Business Plan Competition.
  • Sylvatex: Sylvatex is the maker of SmartFuel, a cost-saving, renewable diesel fuel that significantly decreases petro-diesel consumption by replacing a portion of diesel fuel with readily available biomass-derived ingredients, significantly reducing carbon emissions. The company was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" at the 2011 Silicon Valley Launch conference.
  • Tenrehte Technologies: Tenrehte Technologies is the maker of PICOwatt, a WiFi enabled smart plug designed to address the real-time energy monitoring and control market. PICOwatt won Best of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2010 in the Green product section.
  • is a free energy monitoring tool that brings together information from multiple energy accounts, automatically categorizes energy transactions, and helps manage energy use. intends to save consumers 15% on their energy bills while better informing them of their energy use and the different sources it comes from.

"We're thrilled to welcome these four startups to the Greenstart Accelerator.  Of all of our applicants, these clearly stood at the top," said Greenstart Managing Partner Mitch Lowe.  "Each of these companies stands to make a big difference in the global energy challenge, and we're excited to help accelerate their businesses and make them smarter, faster, less risky and better capitalized."

"Today I am proud to welcome Greenstart and their first four startups - Lono, Sylvatex, Tenrehte Technologies and - to San Francisco," said Mayor Lee. "As the first cleantech accelerator in San Francisco, Greenstart will serve as an engine for starting new companies, driving economic growth and creating green jobs in our City. San Francisco is at the center of the cleantech industry, and I remain committed to supporting the growth and success of this critical sector."

Greenstart's participants were vetted through a highly-competitive process that began with 129 applicants.  The chosen companies will receive ongoing mentorship from a pool of more than 30 successful entrepreneurs and experts in the startup and cleantech communities, gain valuable business resources and have introductions to angel, venture capital and strategy investors.  In addition, Greenstart has invested between $25,000 and $100,000 in each company.

Greenstart provides an open, collaborative and green workspace at its headquarters in downtown San Francisco, as well as additional resources to help them grow their businesses faster.  These include access to prototyping and test space, legal counsel, grant writing assistance, and video and design support.

The 12-week program will conclude with a pitch day in December, when companies will have the opportunity to present to angel, venture capital and strategic investors.

Greenstart will begin accepting applications for its second session on its website beginning October 2.

About Greenstart:

Greenstart is a cleantech accelerator program providing a fast runway to success for entrepreneurs addressing the energy challenge.  Greenstart provides seed funding, mentoring, and connections with fellow entrepreneurs and investors in order to give startups an advantage in launching the cleantech ideas of tomorrow.  The company is based in San Francisco. Additional information can be found

SOURCE  Greenstart


CONTACT: Jane Park,

Web Site:


Organic Energy Corporation: What Is Resource Flow Control?

DALLAS, Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- What is Resource Flow Control?  It's the ability of the city to mandate its garbage be brought to its landfill.  What is an exclusive franchise agreement?  It's the ability of a private company to mandate the garbage be brought to its landfill. Quite simply, there is absolutely no difference between Resource Flow Control and an exclusive franchise agreement between a City and a private NSWMA company. The NSWMA uses "flow control" with every exclusive franchise agreement it gets, so it can corner the market on the waste/resources.  They can use their landfill to price fix, intimidate small local haulers, and control the market.  If fact, the NSWMA has recommended "privatizing" the Dallas Sanitation Department's collection and disposal operations in the form of an exclusive franchise agreement. How ironic?

Dallas however, can use Resource Flow Control to stop recyclables, about 2,500 tons of them per day, from being needlessly buried to the financial and environmental detriment of the city.  This can happen with no increase in collection and disposal costs to the Dallas business community. Those 2,500 tons per day equal anywhere from $12.5 to $50 million annually for the City of Dallas, when separated and sold in the recyclables markets.  But why is Organic Energy Corporation, a private company, interested in promoting Resource Flow Control for the City of Dallas?

"There are approximately 5,000 tons per day of commercial waste, that is rich in valuable recyclable resources, being needlessly buried in private landfills," says Barney Gorey, Public Affairs VP for OEC.  "We agree with the CEO of the largest waste collection, disposal and recycling company in the world, who recently said that his company valued trash at up to $200 per ton."  He added, "We are the only company with patent pending separation technology who can recover these recyclables from the inbound municipal solid waste."  According to Gorey, this has everything to do with the NSWMA's threatening letter to the Mayor and the City.  "If you can't beat 'em, sue 'em" is their mantra."  The stakes for this game include huge financial gains by monetizing the waste stream while becoming one of the most environmentally sound cities in America according to OEC.  "We have the key to unlock the value in the waste stream and we want to equally share that money with the City.  Wouldn't it be a novel idea if discarded trash could be the catalyst for economic and environmental development and sustainability in South Dallas," he asked.   Does the NSWMA have any new business or environmental ideas for the city's waste?

SOURCE  Organic Energy Corporation

Organic Energy Corporation

CONTACT: Barney Gorey of Organic Energy Corporation, +1-214-347-0539, Cell/Text,


Monday, September 19, 2011

A Switch From Coal To Natural Gas Won't Help The Climate: Study

"Natural gas might burn much cleaner than coal, but getting it has its problems: leaky pipes. And those leaks spray gasses that are worse for the climate than carbon."  Natural Gas is widely thought to be better than coal, even though it's a fossil fuel.  As a fossil fuel burning natural gas releases carbon into the atmosphere which had been sequestered eons ago.  This increase of carbon in the ecosphere is bad for climate change.  But burning natural gas causes fewer side effects than coal (look up the constituents of fly ash sometime) and has smaller greenhouse gas effects.

The problem is leaky pipes.  Natural gas and methane are essentially the same thing.  A difference between natural gas and methane is that natural gas was formed over eons of time underground, whereas methane is simply the byproduct of decomposition of current organic matter in places like swamps or peat bogs or landfills or even cows (cow farts are a source of greenhouse gas causing methane).  Both natural gas and methane are potent greenhouse gasses; more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

According to a computer simulation study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), a partial global shift from coal to natural gas would still accelerate climate change through 2050 without methane leaks.


Source: A Switch From Coal To Natural Gas Won't Help The Climate: Study


Dominion Receives Federal Grant to Evaluate Ways to Reduce Cost of Offshore Wind Generation

  • Partners include National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Virginia Tech, ALSTOM Power, Moffatt & Nichol
  • Two-year, $500,000 grant to pay for energy modeling and analysis
  • Goal is to achieve at least 25 percent reduction in the cost of off-shore generation

RICHMOND, Va.Sept. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion (NYSE: D) has received a two-year,$500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to look for ways to reduce the cost of offshore wind electricity generation by at least 25 percent.

"One of the biggest challenges to off-shore wind generation is bringing down the cost so it can be more competitive with other forms of electric power generation," said Mary C. Doswell, senior vice president-Alternative Energy Solutions. "The intent of the project is to achieve at least 25 percent reduction in the levelized cost of energy relative to a benchmark 600-megawatt power station design by integrating innovations in turbine, foundation, installation and electrical infrastructure into the most optimal combination."

The grant is one of 41 projects across 20 states totaling $43 million over the next five years that the DOE announced on Sept. 8 to speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems. (See the DOE news release at:

Dominion's partners in its project are the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute in Arlington, Va.; the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory; ALSTOM Power, an international provider of vital equipment and services for the U.S. power generation markets with a turbine engineering, manufacturing and service center in Richmond; and Moffatt & Nichol, an international maritime engineering firm specializing in structural design, ocean engineering, ports, harbors and marine terminals with local offices in Richmond and Norfolk, Va.

The Dominion-led team will utilize an integrated systems approach for optimizing the hypothetical design of a 600-megawatt offshore wind project located at a variety of reference sites on the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf, as well as other sites on the U.S. Atlantic coastline from Massachusetts through South Carolina, with a foundation and support substructure suitable for installation in water depths ranging from 10 meters to 60 meters.

Dominion also is studying what it would take to build a high-voltage underwater transmission line extending from Virginia Beach out to the potential commercial lease area in the Atlantic Ocean. Dominion plans to complete the study this year, evaluating options to best support multiple offshore wind projects off the coast of Virginia.

Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 28,200 megawatts of generation, 11,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline and 6,300 miles of electric transmission lines.  Dominion operates the nation's largest natural gas storage system with 947 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 15 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's website

SOURCE Dominion

CONTACT: Jim Norvelle, +1-804-771-6115,

Web Site:



Department of Energy Awards $43 Million to Spur Offshore Wind Energy


September 8, 2011 - 9:46am

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $43 million over the next five years to speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems. The 41 projects across 20 states will advance wind turbine design tools and hardware, improve information about U.S. offshore wind resources, and accelerate the deployment of offshore wind by reducing market barriers such as supply chain development, transmission and infrastructure. The awards announced today will help the U.S. to compete in the global wind energy manufacturing sector, promote economic development and job creation, and support the development of an emerging industry that will provide clean electricity to American families.

Offshore wind energy can provide access to a vast clean, domestic, renewable resource that can help the United States meet its critical energy, environmental and economic challenges and provide energy to coastal cities where much of the nation’s population and electricity demand lies.

“The U.S. has an abundant offshore wind resource that remains untapped,” said Secretary Chu. “Through these awards, the Department of Energy is developing the critical technology and knowledge base necessary to responsibly develop this resource, enhance our energy security, and create new clean energy jobs.”

The selections announced today focus on technical approaches to advancing offshore technology and approaches to removing market barriers to responsible offshore wind energy deployment. Funding is subject to Congressional appropriations.

Nineteen offshore wind technology development projects will receive $26.5 million to address technical challenges and provide the foundation for a cost-competitive offshore wind industry in the United States. Awardees, in collaboration with industry, will develop the engineering modeling and analysis tools required to lower overall offshore facility costs and to design the next generation of innovative large-scale turbines optimized for installation and operation in the marine environment. These projects include research and development for innovations in key components such as floating support structures and turbine rotor and control subsystems that may lead to capital cost reductions of up to 50 percent.

Twenty-two market barrier removal projects will receive $16.5 million to research factors limiting the deployment of offshore wind in the nation’s coastal and Great Lakes regions. Topic areas include project design factors such as environmental impact assessment and characterization of the offshore wind resource; subjects related to investment and infrastructure development such as categorization of financial risks and long term manufacturing needs and port requirements; and technical offshore wind interface topics such as transmission grid integration, and assessment of potential impact on offshore navigation and communication systems.

Read the full list of award winners.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about DOE’s efforts to research, test, develop, and deploy innovative wind energy technologies.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Our Gas Will Soon Have More Ethanol | Autopia |

The ethanol industry wants the Environmental Protection Agency to increase the amount of ethanol blended with gasoline from 10 to 15 percent. Is this a good idea? Of course the ethanol industry wants this, it means more business for them. But there are a ton of considerations about ethanol which makes it seem a bad idea. Ethanol production has a poor energy return on investment. Ethanol production requires a lot of land. Ethanol production competes with land and resources for food production. Bleah.


Monday, September 12, 2011

How to build a 14x14 solar cabin - tiny house, inexpensive building instructions, solar powered


This is a general overview of building a 14x14 solar cabin for under $2000.  For complete step-by-step directions, videos, and more project plans including how to install solar power, drill your own well, build a composting toilet and more please visit my website:



Solar Water Heater from Brazil "Soda bottle solar water heater" -Panasonic ecoideasnet

This self-built solar water heater is made of plastic bottles, black painted milk cartons and PVC pipes. It is popular in southern Brazil.

The water is heated passively by solar energy. As the hot water rises, it is naturally replaced by cold water, so no pump is needed.



CCTV-9 report: Solar bottle lights in the Philippines

Video report of an ingenuous low-tech solar-tube design being used in the Phillipines.  It lets poor Filipino's light their homes during the day while using zero electricity or burning fuel.



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Could Apple revolutionize solar with solar panels in gadgets? (GigaOM)


Apple has a couple patents in process over the use of solar panels to recharge the battery in a mobile device.  Think iPod/iPad/iPhone with a flip out solar panel.

The question is whether this is an earth-shaking event of astronomical proportions.  Or whether this is a greenwashing addon of no big effect.  There isn't enough space on a mobile device for any significant power capture, especially considering that most mobile devices spend most of their time in a pocket.

The last (granted last month) concerns a voltage converter and "algorithms and devices that can monitor and control the way in which a portable device could most effectively be charged via solar, using both embedded solar cells and an attachable solar power source."   The other solar patent granted was awarded in January 2011 and covers similar territory, including a way to monitor and control a charge from a solar source for a mobile device.

Clearly some engineers at Apple are looking at solar power sources for their gadgets.  GigaOM's report (linked below) contends this would be a big deal, because it would create a huge demand for solar panel components.  Apple's effect in components for gizmos is that, as a fierce negotiator, and the size of their typical orders, to drive down component prices.

Source: How Apple could revolutionize solar (GigaOM)


Department of Energy Awards $43 Million to Spur Offshore Wind Energy

September 08, 2011

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $43 million over the next five years to speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the timeline for deploying offshore wind energy systems. The 41 projects across 20 states will advance wind turbine design tools and hardware, improve information about U.S. offshore wind resources, and accelerate the deployment of offshore wind by reducing market barriers such as supply chain development, transmission, and infrastructure. The awards announced today will help the United States to compete in the global wind energy manufacturing sector, promote economic development and job creation, and support the development of an emerging industry that will provide clean electricity to American families.

Offshore wind energy can provide access to a vast clean, domestic, renewable resource that can help the United States meet its critical energy, environmental, and economic challenges and provide energy to coastal cities where much of the nation's population and electricity demand lies.

"The U.S. has an abundant offshore wind resource that remains untapped," said Secretary Chu. "Through these awards, the Department of Energy is developing the critical technology and knowledge base necessary to responsibly develop this resource, enhance our energy security, and create new clean energy jobs."

The selections announced today focus on three technical approaches to advancing offshore technology and seven approaches to removing market barriers to responsible offshore wind energy deployment. Funding is subject to Congressional appropriations.

Technology Advancement

  • Modeling and Analysis Design Tools to Assess Offshore Wind Turbine Technologies: Eight projects will receive $6.7 million to advance the current state-of-the-art modeling and analysis tools for the design, performance assessment, system modeling and cost assessment of offshore wind systems.
  • Innovative Offshore Wind Plant System Design Studies: Seven projects will receive $3.4 million to develop conceptual designs and assessments of offshore wind plant systems that enhance energy capture, improve performance and reliability, and reduce the cost of energy from integrated wind plant systems.
  • Innovative Offshore Wind Turbine Component Development: Four projects will receive $16.4 million to research and develop innovative rotor and control systems designs for advanced components and integrated systems to reduce capital costs of these systems by up to 50%.

Market Barrier Removal

  • Offshore Wind Market and Economic Analysis: One project receiving $510,000 will reduce financing costs and increase investor confidence by supporting offshore wind market analysis to inform stakeholder decision-making regarding individual projects, industry issues, and energy policy.
  • Environmental Risk Reduction: Three projects receiving $5.7 million will work to expedite the permitting process by performing ecological studies and predictive modeling and validating innovative technologies for avian and bat studies.
  • Manufacturing and Supply Chain Development: One project will receive $350,000 to assess the current domestic supply chain infrastructure and recommend strategies for national manufacturing infrastructure development to support offshore wind deployment.
  • Transmission Planning and Interconnection Studies: Four projects will receive $2.5 million to study and plan for the integration of offshore wind energy into the electrical transmission and grid interconnection, thereby increasing technical viability of commercial-scale offshore wind integration.
  • Optimized Infrastructure and Operations: Four projects will receive $1.2 million to support the assessment of ports, vessels, and operations that will be involved with offshore wind energy efforts.
  • Resource Characterization and Design Conditions: Eight projects will receive $5.8 million to develop an accessible network of information on subjects including U.S. offshore wind resources, design requirements for offshore wind turbines, and environmental conditions affecting offshore wind energy systems.
  • Impact on Electronic Equipment in the Marine Environment: One project will receive $500,000 to evaluate the potential effects of offshore wind energy facilities on electronic navigation, detection, or communication equipment such as airborne radar, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), shipboard radios, and SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging).

Read the full list of award winners.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about DOE's efforts to research, test, develop, and deploy innovative wind energy technologies.